Whoah! Why so many old people hanging out at the University of Richmond?
Whoah! Why so many old people hanging out at the University of Richmond?

by James A. Bacon

As Baby Boomers reach their retirement years, the Age Wave is washing over the country. The big push among the G.I. Generation and the Silent Generation was to head south, settling in Florida and Arizona. But Boomers have other ideas. They are more inclined to age in place. And if they do decide to move, they’re less likely to head to the old retirement havens. New regions are emerging as retirement hot spots.

Nerdwallet ranked the nation’s 75 largest metropolitan areas by growth in the 65+ population as a percentage of total population between 2007 and 2012. The result was a real grab-bag of communities, only two of which, Phoenix and Jacksonville, are located in Florida or Arizona. Rainy, overcast Portland, Ore., ranked No. 2 on the list (microbreweries and golf courses) and Detroit No. 5. (Livonia, a large suburb, has large retirement communities).

Then at No. 9, there’s good ol’ RVA. States Nerdwallet: “Retirees in Richmond enjoy the area’s rich history, architecture and cultural offerings, which include a symphony, ballet, orchestra and many theaters and art galleries. The University of Richmond … hosts the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, providing local residents over the age of 50 with access to learning opportunities regardless of their educational background.”

I doubt the author of the piece has any first-hand familiarity with the Richmond — I’m guessing he checked the web for local amenities — but I’ll say that he hit close to the mark. Richmond does attract the culturally inclined. It’s difficult to enjoy the rich array of activities while working and raising children but when we retire a few years from now, my wife and I are looking forward to living here. We hope to travel a lot, but Richmond makes a wonderful base of operations. (In our discussions, we never even considered the Osher Institute. But UR is a five-minute drive from our house — that could be a significant added attraction).

Charlottesville and Williamsburg are up-and-coming retirement destinations, too. They didn’t make the list because the Charlottesville MSA was too small to be included in the survey and Williamsburg was submerged in the much larger Hampton Roads MSA. But quality universities are magnets for both communities.

The type of retiree who is inclined to move to Virginia because of its cultural offerings is precisely the kind of person we want coming here. People who patronize the ballet, visit art museums and audit college classes are far more likely to be educated and affluent. Educated retirees are the demographic flip side of educated young people that so many regions covet. Those in the 65 set may no longer be in the entrepreneurial stage of their lives but they have more disposable income and they have more time to get involved in the community.

Richmond BizSense published a story this morning about an unnamed New Jersey couple moving to Richmond that just purchased a magnificent house on Monument Ave. for $1.52 million. For a modest price (compared to New Jersey) they get a 7,760-square-foot house with marble bathrooms and one of the premium street addresses in the city. The new homeowner was quoted as saying, “I’m moving to Virginia and I want to have a house that shows off the history of the South because I’ve never lived in the South.”

Welcome to the South, honey, I’m sure you’ll love it here. And we’ll be happy to have you.

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3 responses to “65 Is the New 25”

  1. Relative Wealth of Retired Folks in the US


    Between Social Security and Medicare, and home ownership, the retired of today are not only healthier but they tend to have enough wealth to move.

  2. Peter Galuszka Avatar
    Peter Galuszka

    “Honey?” Dooo tell!!!

  3. Breckinridge Avatar

    Yeah, well, this global warming ain’t working out and a few more winters like this one and the Sunbelt might start looking a little better….:) I made the mistake of being on I-95 South in South Carolina between Christmas and New Years Day and there was no shortage of snowbirds on the move south that week….

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